What To Do When You Get Laid Off

by Nate St. Pierre on June 18, 2014

So yesterday was my last day of work at GiveForward, one of the best companies it’s ever been my pleasure to work for. I spent the last 18 months of my career there, making a difference every single day for people in medical need. I added to the value of the business, I strengthened their culture, and I helped them reach $100 million raised for those who needed it. All in all, it was a great experience and a really good run.

Getting laid off usually comes as a surprise, but it doesn’t always have to be a negative experience. Here are a few ways to keep things positive, productive, and come out on top in the end.

1. Don’t Get Mad


Jobs come and jobs go. The corporate landscape is constantly shifting, and businesspeople have to make business decisions, even when they’re hard (and even when they involve sending you along on your merry way). 99% of the time, it’s nothing personal – it’s just a business decision. So don’t take it personally. Understand that they’re running their business the best they can, and you should run your little life-as-a-business the best way you can, too. Getting angry about the situation is unproductive at every level.


2. Take a Day Off


Whatever you do, don’t freak out. You just lost your job, yes. It sucks, yes. But take this first day, today, to get away from the office (you don’t have much choice there, do you?), chill out a bit, relax, and process what just happened. Maybe take your ridiculously good-looking family to the beach. If you don’t have a ridiculously good-looking family, perhaps you can use this day to obtain one. Right now your brain is probably telling you OMG YOUR WORLD IS ON FIRE AND YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT! THIS! SECOND! But the thing is, your brain is an idiot. Give him a day to calm down, and he’ll feel much better about things in the morning.


3. Make a Plan


Once your brain comes back from freakout mode, it’s time to make a plan. This doesn’t have to be complicated. You just have to decide what you want to do next, and then figure out the immediate steps you need to take to get there. Do you want a new job in the same field? Make a list of all the contacts you have at those places. Want to embark on a totally new career path? Figure out the requirements it will take, and what the next actionable step is. Put it down on paper. Make it real. Then go do it. But first you have to take care of just one more thing…


4. Keep It Classy


You’re a professional, so act like it. Help your company make the transition. Thank your boss for the opportunities you’ve had. Say goodbye to your co-workers in whatever way makes sense for you. I know some of you may want to go out like this, but let’s try to avoid that just for today, mmkay? You know that first impressions are huge, but so are final impressions. Make yours count. Be the kind of person that people want to help, because it’ll come in handy for the next step…


5. Reach Out To Your Network


Unless you’re a total asshat, there are probably a few people around who know you and generally care about your well-being. Now is the time to talk to them and see if they can give you a hand with your next steps. Remember that plan you made earlier? This is where it works. You know what you want to do, and you know the right people to talk to. Don’t wait – do it now, while everything is still fresh in your mind. For high-level or personal requests, talk to your contact one-on-one, in person if possible. For multiple mid-level acquaintances, use a personalized email with an offer to follow up over the phone or in person. For lower-level lead generation or to find previously unknown opportunities, use an owned broadcast mechanism, like a personal blog.


It could go something like this:

“Hello, network. My name is Nate, and you may remember me from such projects as: ItStartsWith.Us | Love Bomb | Love Drop | GiveForward, along with a few others.

I’m always busy working on something original and cool.

This is my LinkedIn profile, if you want to see some of the jobs I’ve had and recommendations people have given me.

I’m funny, too. (with a bit of an edge)

I’ve done freelance/contract work for some top-tier creative marketing and advertising firms, with an emphasis on web-to-real-life activation and mobilization campaigns. I also do personal consulting with startups and entrepreneurs who are just starting out. Right now I’d be happy to take on any of these kind of roles as an income stream while I build out the next phase of my career, which will be another personal project.

If you or someone you know could use my experience and talent in any of these areas, please check out my Work With Me page and get in touch!”

And that’s pretty much it, guys. This should get you through the first few days, and the rest of it is gonna be a matter of keeping your head down and hustling, looking for your best-fit opportunity. (Oh, and if I can help you in your search in any way, just drop me a line and let me know, too.)

If I could give you one final piece of advice, it would be this: When you get laid off, take the opportunity to re-evaluate your life and make sure that you are the person you want to be. If you’re not quite there yet, this is your chance to make sure your next step takes you closer to becoming that person. It takes a bit of work, but you can do it. For real.

Good luck!

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